Current Carolina Panthers wide receiver Adam Theilen is trying to help Bryce Young establish himself as a franchise quarterback for the franchise, but a few years ago, he was one of the better receivers in the NFL for a Minnesota Vikings team that was hoping to compete for a Super Bowl, and he once had a fiery exchange with New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick back in 2018 that might have led to the legendary head coach pursuing him in a trade.

In a game between the Vikings and Patriots in 2018, Bill Belichick wanted to challenge a spot on a run by Latavius Murray. Then Patriots safety Patrick Chung had an injury on the play, allowing Belichick time to throw the challenge flag. Thielen said he felt that was a bending of the rules with Patrick Chung being injured giving Belichick the time to challenge the play during and appearance on the Pardon My Take podcast. Then, Thielen revealed that later on in the following offseason, Belichick pursued Thielen.

“I just let (Belichick) know I didn't feel like that was the right thing to do, but it is what it is,” Adam Thielen said, according to Inside the Vikings. “… I believe going into that next offseason, (Belichick) had reached out to the (Vikings) about, you know, possibly trading for me, trying to get me to come there. So it must have been like a good impression, he must have liked that kind of tenacity or competitiveness.”

Instead of joining the Patriots and catching balls from Tom Brady, Thielen stayed with the Vikings through the 2022 season. Then Thielen signed with the Panthers last offseason, and was a veteran presence for Bryce Young. Carolina has upgraded its wide receiver room this offseason, but Thielen remains and should be a key receiver.

It would have been interesting to see Thielen end up with the Patriots in 2019. That was Tom Brady's last season with the Patriots, and maybe his presence would have convinced Brady to stay longer. That might not be the case, but it is an interesting thought.

Adam Thielen's role with the Panthers in 2024

Thielen is in the later stages of his career, but as mentioned before, he is playing a key role in the development of Bryce Young with the Panthers. He was the top wide receiver on the depth chart last season, but he figures to be either second or third in the pecking order with the additions of Diontae Johnson and Xavier Legette.

The Panthers added Diontae Johnson in a trade with the Pittsburgh Steelers this offseason, and he will almost surely be the No. 1 receiver for Young this year. Xavier Legette is less experienced coming in as a rookie, but has some upside. He might not have a big role right away, and that could give Thielen more targets early on. However, Legette could see his role develop and grow throughout the season if he lives up to the Panthers' hopes for him.

After Thielen's career is over, the Patriots rumors will always be an interesting “what if” to look back on.